ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- In January 2009, Rock Island Arsenal-Garrison initiated an effort to try to reduce the amount of waste generated by our heat production process.

In order to generate heat at Arsenal Island, coal is burned in our central heat plant. The burning of coal produces steam that is used for heat, as well as for some production processes. In the process of burning the coal, ash is formed. A similar process to envision would be that of cooking some nice burgers on a charcoal grill. You ignite the charcoal briquettes to produce fire, which produces heat, in order to cook your burgers. When the briquettes finish burning, they leave a pile of ash behind that must be disposed of.

For Rock Island Arsenal, this disposal process is more complicated as a result of air emission controls in use and the large volume of coal we burn each year. After the ash is generated, it is vacuumed into an ash silo. From the silo, it is sent to a dustless ash unloader. At that point, it is mixed with water, and then discharged from the plant into a dump truck. The dump truck hauls the ash to the local landfill for disposal. When this project began, the ash was disposed of at the Scott County landfill. It was estimated that between 2,000-2,500 tons of ash were being sent to the landfill each year.

The Garrison initiated an effort to reduce the amount of ash being taken to the landfill. Not only was the ash eating up precious landfill resources, but hauling and disposal costs were fairly significant. In addition, the Rock Island Arsenal is required under Executive Order 13514 to divert 50 percent of solid waste generated from the landfill.

After extensive research, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources allowed Garrison to enter into an agreement with Lafarge Cement Company in Buffalo, Iowa. Lafarge has agreed to accept our ash waste and use it in the production of cement. Delivery of waste ash to Lafarge, in lieu of the Scott County landfill, commenced December 2009. After a few minor kinks were worked out, it was proven to be an effective process for the diversion of 2,300 tons of coal ash each year from the landfill. This will allow the Arsenal to show the diverted ash as a reuse product on our annually submitted Toxic Release Inventory Report. This diversion also confirms that Rock Island Arsenal meets the goals set forth under Executive Order 13514.